Tucson Medical Center and a Colorado-based company called DispatchHealth are collaborating to bring in-home care to recently hospitalized TMC patients as well in-home urgent care to Tucson residents.
This is how it works: People who need medical help soon, but aren’t facing an emergency, can make a same-day appointment for a visit. For TMC patients who were hospitalized, a DispatchHealth team, if assigned, will visit within 24 to 72 hours. This visit is called a bridge, and can provide care until a patient can see a specialist or primary care provider. The medical team can also help with any unforeseen care needs.
There are three DispatchHealth rover vehicles available here now, and each includes a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, along with a medical technician, to treat a wide range of nonemergency injuries and illnesses. An emergency room doctor is always on call for any questions or medical advice.
The company is planning to have five or six vehicles here by the end of the year, said David Delgrosso, DispatchHealth’s market manager for Tucson. The vehicles include medical equipment, such as an electrocardiogram, as well as laboratory equipment to carry out some common tests.
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“We can see patients that are 3 months old up to a nana who is 106 years old,” said Robyn Green, a nurse practitioner with DispatchHealth. “We get to see patients where they are most comfortable.”
Seeing people at home helps them assess what else is going on in people’s lives, Green said, and whether they might need other help such as medication delivery or access to food.
Green provides services with JeriAnn Martin, who worked for a rural fire department in Alpine, before becoming a DispatchHealth medical technician. She said providing nonemergency care at home is a welcome change for paramedics and firefighters because it helps free them up for actual emergencies.
DispatchHealth first started providing services in Tucson in March 2021 before expanding to Green Valley last July. The collaboration with TMC started this week and offers TMC health providers more options when hospitalized patients are going home but still need some oversight.
“COVID-19 has changed the landscape of medicine, and this helps us stay ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Mansoor Jatoi, a hospitalist with Arizona Inpatient Medicine who works with TMC inpatients.
The vans free up space in the emergency room and long waits, said Dan Gibson, TMC’s director of communications and marketing. It also adds an option for people who cannot travel to appointments easily or who need help but don’t have a primary care doctor.
Delgrosso said about 20% of recently released hospital patients are readmitted within 30 days. Having a medical team visit at home has been found to help reduce readmittance rates significantly, he said.
DispatchHealth is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. The company provides services in 23 states, with 28 rover cars in Denver, 23 in Las Vegas and 15 in Phoenix.
To request a visit, patients can call (520) 442-3117 or visit the website for either DispatchHealth or TMC Health. No referral is needed but if the health need is an emergency, people should still call 911 or visit an emergency room.
The service is covered by most health insurance providers as well as Medicare and Medicaid services.
Contact reporter Patty Machelor at 806-7754 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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